Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Climate Action: Things Are Not Going Very Well

One of the many devastating tornadoes in 2024. (NOAA image)

George Harvey

In May, The Guardian ran an article, “World’s top climate scientists expect global heating to blast past 1.5ºC target,” describing what 380 top climate scientists expect in the future of climate change. The image they describe is not good (https://bit.ly/ClimateDystopia).

The Guardian reached out to “every contactable lead author or review editor of IPCC reports since 2018” to learn what their thoughts are about climate change and how it is being addressed. Of the 843 people they contacted, 380 responded, 77% expect global warming to exceed 2.5°C (4.5°F). Only six of the 380 who responded believe that the increase will be kept below 1.5°C, while another sixteen believe it will be kept to near that change. At the other end of the spectrum, four believe that it will exceed 5.0°C, a figure that could be devastating.

The respondents are all leading IPCC scientists. They have all devoted major parts of their lives studying the climate. And most of them are frightened. Some talk about “semi-dystopia” as a possibility for the future, while some make clear that unless monumental action is taken, we could lose “everything.”

This is a major change over the last decade. It is driven by events that were predicted to happen years in the future, if we failed to act, but they are happening now, in ways that we did not expect. An article in CleanTechnica examines the surprising rise in the sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, which has come to six inches in the last ten years (https://bit.ly/GulfWaterRise). That rise was not expected during this century, if we could keep emissions and climate change to reasonable levels.

Some of us were expecting bad news. When this year had the warmest April on record, it was the eleventh month in a row that was the warmest for that month on record, according to an article from ABC News (https://bit.ly/WarmestApril). And according to NASA, the ten warmest years on record, globally, were the last ten years (https://bit.ly/TenYearsNASA).

One thing that is especially disheartening about this is that there are people in leadership in this country who still claim that climate change is not happening as the scientists say it is. There are still some who say it is not our doing, with the implication that it is not for us to stop. Some just want to ignore the issue. We might think that Florida Gov. DeSantis believes that ignoring what is happening in his state is better than addressing it, because he signed a law reducing the priority of climate change and banning offshore wind turbines.

But even more disheartening is the fact that big businesses, with deep pockets, are willing and able to put their money behind candidates who adjust their beliefs to coincide with what their benefactors wish them to do.

In recent days, ex-president Donald Trump notably told companies of the oil and gas industry that he would undo all of President Biden’s environmental work as quickly as he could, if they would just reach into their big pockets and donate $1 billion to the cause of returning him to the White House. And he pledged to scrap all offshore wind projects on the first day of his presidency, according to an article in The Guardian (https://bit.ly/IfTrump).

This brings us to some questions. For starters, is there really anything we can do? The answer to that is yes, there are lots of things we can and should do.

Probably the first place to start by electing political candidates who care more about the people and the environment than they do about preserving business plans of companies that produce or depend on fossil fuels.

Another thing we need to do is to free ourselves from dependence on wasteful and polluting practices. Readers of Green Energy Times can probably recite what many of these are from memory. We need to live in well insulated houses, use non-polluting forms of heat, drive non-polluting vehicles, and so on.

But a big question looming over all of us, from those who are leading scientists to kids in school, is
“Can we really stop climate change?” That is something that we will have to pursue with some thought, wisdom, and care.

Scientists know these things, but many scientists are discouraged. They cannot understand how the world can ignore the best work they can do. They are putting in the work to find out what is going on, and it seems nations are bent on ignoring science with the expectation that the heat will magically go away.

We should pause and think about that. Are the scientists afraid that we really cannot stop climate change? Or are they afraid because we are not doing enough about it? Nearly all of them agree that if we just act, using technology that we already have, it will work.

In their frustration, some scientists have gone to the point that they are advocating use of geoengineering by putting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Personally, I am not sure that can work, and I feel sure that it would cause damage through acid rain.

Eighty years ago, the attack on Pearl Harbor impelled us into a war we did not want. When that happened, those who came before us acted in a concerted manner, committed to our country and each other. I believe that if we act in a similar manner now, we can achieve the unimaginable, just as they did. There are people who have said for years that if we go onto a wartime footing, we can deal with climate change. It is something we might have to think about.

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